Update 2020: The Best and Worst Stock, Futures and Option Trading APIs

My original post is still here, I get a lot questions, so I thought I would update with my current findings.

When picking an API the $64,000 question is  does Charles Schwab (TD Ameritrade) or Morgan Stanley (Etrade) really want to deal with building an out API for their customers once the mergers happen? Meaning is there enough revenue generated from API trading to keep 10 annoying coders with at least 2 dev ops bros who believe they know everything and of course an annoying project manager.  I personally believe these firms kind of see the API as dead weight, with only a few customers and the trend is more getting day traders like Robinhood has?  Keep in mind brokerages generally don’t have the trade fees they used to have.

Td Ameritrade

The TD Ameritrade API is courtesy not a guaranteed feature. (This was told to me by a customer service rep) They don’t necessarily provide support if you send them a question at [email protected]. If it’s an easy question they might respond, if it’s a difficult one then they won’t. Reddit / stackoverflow is too fond of TD API. Otherwise their documentation generally is terrible. I currently only use TD API for live option quotes, because I like they can give the entire option chain so I can analyze it on “my  local”. It generally is the worst API that I have ever used. Since it’s more of a courtesy I I  On the flip side I Think or Swim is awesome.

Etrade API

I have poked around the new eTrade API, it appear to be very easy to use. I think they are using standard REST API methods etc. Meaning they are probably using a framework such as api-platform to build it. From what little I can see it seems like it is rather too easy to use and well documented.

Interactive Brokers

Interactive Brokers is what I trade options and futures with, their code has a learning curve, it is not terribly nice and sometimes you just have to wonder about serious WTF. Once you get past that and consider it is really the only game in town, it works just fine. I’m trading futures 24 hours a day, with no problems. IB really focuses on their API and has a dedicated staff, support etc.


I have not had time to test out Alpaca. I don’t get paid to write these reviews (I wish I did) So since I’m a practitioner, I don’t have an incentive to test out Alpaca or any other API at this time. Although IB is a pain in the butt, it’s working just fine for me.

I ran across this website the other day… Any wants to join forces or pay to front run Robinhood, shoot me an email.  This is some low hanging fruit.

7 Replies to “Update 2020: The Best and Worst Stock, Futures and Option Trading APIs”

  1. Thanks for the information. I’m wondering if anything happened between 2019 and 2020 that changed your mind about TD Ameritrade’s API. Last year’s article had decent comments about them, and this year’s comments are pretty negative. FYI, the current year’s comments are more in line with what I’ve read from other online sources– including the reddit threads.

    1. About a month ago I spent 2 days trying to figure out how authenticate the TD Ameritrade API. In addition, it also became apparent to me that TD doesn’t support their API. That with comments on Reddit having the same experience as myself. Thankfully I’m not crazy or stupid for not being able to understand TD’s API. So I do use the TD API for now to get the entire option chain, which I can analyze locally. This is something I can’t do with IB. When TD API becomes to much of a hassle, I probably will just buy the data from the CME.

      1. Why don’t you just scrape the option chains off of Yahoo?
        Of course they’re pretty sloppy and they erase all bids and asks about 8 hours before market open, but they’re free.

        I do that and, after extensive cleaning up and smoothing, it works pretty well.

        1. Years ago, I started with Yahoo options / scrape. The yahoo data is so bad when you start to dig into it. I wouldn’t recommend it. TD Ameritrade probably has the best options data. You can pull down the entire options chain.

  2. We (Medved Trader) have a streaming API through our software that will connect to any of the brokers or data sources we support for both market data and trading. TD Ameritrade, IB, Webull are included. It is a Websocket API with JSON.

    The software takes care of all the nitty gritty of the brokers’ APIs and you get a simple consistent JSON protocol to communicate with.

    http://www.medvedtrader.com – the API is in beta. If you’d like to try it out and look at the docs for it – email us at [email protected]

  3. After 100+ hours of development, eTrade is telling me –

    “Our API program is for technology companies that serve Registered Investment Advisors whose clients’ assets are held at Schwab. Unfortunately, we currently do not have an API that can be used for personal use.”

    contact e-mail address – [email protected]

    1. This is good know! I also feel when choosing an API, knowing if they are going to support for retail investors is the most important decision.

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